The Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust are based at the former Midsomer Norton South Railway Station. The postal address is Midsomer Norton Station, Silver Street, Midsomer Norton, BA3 2EY. However, there are some specific details that will be of interest to radio hams:
- Lat/Long: 51.281077°,-2.482759°
- IARU: IO81sg
- IOTA: EU005 (UK Mainland)
- WAB: ST65 – England
The weekend of 27/28 September, aside from being the weekend of the National Hamfest, was the weekend set aside for Railways on the Air. This is one of our bigger special events and it is our fourth year of operation.
We were blessed with good weather on both days and a good turnout of members and visitors throughout the weekend.
As last year we set up our HF SSB station in the carriage adjacent to the buffet car. The carriage had been altered since our last visit and allowed us to face the door whilst operating so as to be able to greet any visitors, although this meant that visitors first perceptions of us, aside from our sunny demeanour, was the back of the rig, ATU and PSU and its associated cabling which is not, perhaps, the most attractive view and something that even our youngest members were unable to fully compensate for.
Setting up on the Saturday morning went more or less to plan until it came time to put up the antenna. Last year had shown us that a half size G5RV at 15.55m (51 feet) in length fitted nicely between roach poles strapped to either end of our railway carriage, with the standard railway carriage length being 19.5m (64 feet) and our plan was to repeat this arrangement this year.
Unfortunately, and unbeknown to us, the vertical "handrails" at either end of our carriage had been removed as part of the refurbishment/restoration/conversion process. This was a shame as last year the carriage had formed a really useful prop to the end of antenna supports.
This year we had to resort to using the rail on the adjoining buffet car at one end and on a locomotive a couple of wagons away at the other end. In and of itself not a major problem, but it did mean that the roach poles had to do much more work this year as instead of having the full height of the operating carriage to resist the tension from the antenna self weight and wind load, this time they had to rely on their own tensile properties and a couple of velcro staps at the base and about 1500mm above the base.
The inevitable happened, and as the antenna was drawn up to provide something approaching a horizontal line the tension was too much and the roach pole at the buffet car snapped its second telescopic section.
It wasn’t the end of the world, collapsing that section into the base restored sufficient structural integrity all be it at the expense of some height which if Louis Varney is to be believed is of little importance over the last sixth of the antennas length in any case. But it did make us more circumspect about tensioning the antenna with the result that this year our antenna was a bit of a droopy affair!
Never the less, aside from this setback we were on air. Our first contact at around 11:45 BST was GB5ABA the Special Event Station for the West Midlands Air Ambulance, they are fund raising through their QSL cards and donating proceeds to the West Midlands Air Ambulance. There was a small pile-up trying to work Neville but we managed to crack through it on the first or second call so we felt our station was fine even if the aesthetics could have done with a bit more work. A similar result occurred with our first RotA contact of the day with GB1BAS the Bickershaw and Abram Railway Station when we punched through the pile-up there too!
Not all pile-ups were as easy to crack, Pete G0DRX initially failed to emulate the success of both Andy G7KNA and Dave G7BYN although he made many contacts and is to be congratulated for having reserves of feeder which was to prove invaluable through the weekend.
The day moved on in this fashion as we took turns between operating, logging, chatting to visitors, many of whom were lapsed hams, touring the station. By the end of the first day we had logged 42 contacts including 14 other RotA registered operations, 5 other Special Event Stations and 2 members of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust who used Amateur Radio to pass their apologies for not being able to get to the AGM.
Thanks should go to the members of SBARC who turned up and supported and helped, in no particular order: Andy G7KNA, Dave G7BYN, Henryk M0HTB, Peter G0DRZ, Eddie 2E0LJT, Tania 2E0TUK, Josh 2E0DSR and Doug G1TYK and anyone I may have inadvertently forgotten
On the Sunday we were joined by a couple of our younger Foundation Licensees who took the opportunity to operate the Special Event Station.
As the antenna had been left up overnight setup on the Sunday was more efficient and we opened our account shortly after 10:00 BST with a QSO with North Norfolk Railway to set the tone for the day. We found that new RotA registered stations were thinner on the ground today, although we had changed our operating method a little and were working less Special Event stations as we were calling CQ rather than hunting and pouncing. As a result our early work rate was quite high with 15 QSOs in the first hour.
As things were ticking along quite nicely in the afternoon as a “proof of concept” experiment we decided to try to set up a PSK31 station. This consisted of:
- Yaesu FT-857 HF/VHF/UHF Multi-mode 100W transceiver;
- 20m Full Wave Delta Loop Antenna with ability to work 30m as a loaded full wave loop, 40m as half wave inverted V-dipole and 15m as a 1.5 wave inverted V-dipole;
- Watson Power Mite NF25 Switch Mode Power Supply;
- LDG Z-11 Pro Mk I Auto ATU;
- Signalink USB Digi Modes Adapter;
- Diamond SX600 SWR/Power Meter; and
- Acer Aspire 1 Intel Atom Netbook running Elementary OS (a combination of Ubuntu and Enlightenment Desktop) using FLDigi for PSK31.
It took a little while to get set up, the antenna was constructed around the static goods wagon that forms a feature near the Trust’s museum, and the station itself was set up in the gazebo outside out operating carriage and adjacent to the buffet car.
30m wasn’t really that active for data so we switched to 20m. Conscious that we were now working two stations with antennas in close proximity on harmonically related bands we were expecting some issues with interference but nothing manifested itself. Part of this might have been the fact that the antennas were cross polarised, that is the half size G5RV was horizontally polarised whilst the top fed Delta Loop was vertically polarised plus the G5RV was radiating more or less north-south whilst the Delta Loop was more or less east-west.
We didn’t have a great deal of operating time on PSK31 but we managed to have 6 QSOs in PSK31 with stations in Italy, Norway, Germany, Austria and Spain. Most enjoyable was the contact with IN3GNV Giovanni who went away from the standard macro driven rubber stamp QSOs for a personal keyboard to keyboard QSO. Andy G7KNA was operating the PSK31 station at the time and was more than willing to reciprocate with equally non-macro responses and information. In fact the two had worked before, on 17 September 2010 Andy G7KNA operating as GB2BLE from Lundy Island had an equally enjoyable and unscripted QSO with IN3GNV just before the station was packed up for the year. It was memorable precisely because it was personal and not macro driven.
Thanks for help and support on the Sunday go, in no particular order, to Andy G7KNA, Dave G7BYN, Henryk M0HTB, Tom M3TWJ, Ashley M3USP and anyone else who might have been forgotten.
|Date||Time (UTC)||Station Worked||Band or Freq'cy||Mode||RST||Name||QTH||Notes|
|27/09/14||11:13||GB1BAS||40m||LSB||59+20||59||Jason||Bickershaw||RotA Bickershaw and Abrham Railway Station|
|27/09/14||11:17||GB14NH||40m||LSB||59+20||59||Jamie||Newark Radio Rally|
|27/09/14||11:35||GB0GNA||40m||LSB||59||59+||Carl||Hartlepool||A013 International Air Ambulance Week WW1 Gun Battery Museum|
|27/09/14||11:47||GB0ELR||40m||LSB||57-59||Steve||Ramsbottom||RotA East Lancashire Railway|
|27/09/14||11:56||GB2LHR||40m||LSB||59+20||59/59+10||Bill||RotA Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway (WAB: SD38)|
|27/09/14||12:06||GB5RSR||40m||LSB||57-59||45||Peter||Preston Lancashire||RotA Ribble Steam Railway|
|27/09/14||12:13||GB2RGM||40m||LSB||55-57||59||John||Waltham Abbey||RotA Royal Gunpowder Mills|
|27/09/14||12:20||GB1PCA||40m||LSB||58||59||Andrew||Special Event station run by Llanelli ARS to promote the awareness of Prostate Cancer in men in conjunction with Prostate Cancer UK – see QRZ.com (IARU: IO71wq, WAB: SN51)|
|27/09/14||12:25||GB2EVR||40m||LSB||59||59||Mike||Appleby Cumbria||RotA Eden Valley Railway (Extension to Stockton and Darlington Railway)|
|27/09/14||13:10||GB0BR||40m||LSB||59||59||Mike||Horsted Keynes Station||RotA Bluebell Railway (IARU IO91xb)|
|27/09/14||13:24||MX0NBC||40m||LSB||59||59||Dave||Bitton||RotA Avon Valley Railway Oldland Common Bitton by North Bristol Radio Club|
|27/09/14||13:26||GB2AA||40m||LSB||59||59||Ben||Widness and Runcorn ARC Special Event for Air Ambulance|
|27/09/14||13:28||GB2WS||40m||LSB||59+||59+||David||RotA Princess Royal Class Locamotive Trust|
|27/09/14||13:37||GB2DMR||40m||LSB||59||59||Bill||RotA Drumawhey Miniture Railway Bangor Northern Ireland|
|27/09/14||13:39||F4VPL||40m||LSB||59||59||Dave||South Brittany||Member of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust|
|27/09/14||13:43||GB1NNR||40m||LSB||59||59||Bob||Norfolk||RotA North Norfolk Railway|
|27/09/14||13:46||G4RAC||40m||LSB||59||59||John||Burton on Trent|
|27/09/14||13:54||GB0TLR||40m||LSB||59||59||Mike||RotA Tyttenhanger Light Railway|
|27/09/14||13:58||M0DFW||40m||LSB||59||59||Dave||Member of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust|
|27/09/14||14:05||M0KLK||40m||LSB||59||59||Bill||Isle of Sheppy|
|27/09/14||14:11||G8YPL||40m||LSB||59||59||Pete||Liverpool||Use eQSL or QSL card|
|27/09/14||14:15||M0RLK||40m||LSB||59||58-9||Brian||Trowbridge||No QSL Card|
|27/09/14||14:24||GB2FLR||40m||LSB||59||59||Ian||RotA Foxfield Light Railway|
|27/09/14||14:35||GB2CR||40m||LSB||59||57||Derek||RotA Corris Railway Snowdonia National Park|
|28/09/14||09:05||GB2NNR||40m||LSB||59||59||Paul||RotA North Norfolk Railway|
|28/09/14||09:27||GB0DR||40m||LSB||53||John||RotA Dartmoor (Okehampton Station)|
|28/09/14||10:07||M0DDU||40m||LSB||27||Lost contact due to noise|
|28/09/14||10:17||G8ISI||40m||LSB||59||57||Francis||QSL Card Requested|
|28/09/14||10:24||G0AJH||40m||LSB||59||59||John||Hornchurch Essex||QSL Card Requested|
|28/09/14||13:03||GB0HBL||40m||LSB||59||59||Cliff||RotA The Helston Railway|
|28/09/14||13:18||G0DMH||40m||LSB||59||59||Bruce||Loughborough||No QSL Card|
|28/09/14||13:42||GI0AZB||40m||LSB||59||59||Ian||NW Northern Ireland|
|28/09/14||13:55||G0SYF||40m||LSB||59||59||Bob||Wooton Under Edge|
|28/09/14||14:54||M0MTJ||40m||LSB||59||59||Mike||Perton Near Wolverhampton|
|28/09/14||14:57||GB3PFM||40m||LSB||59||59||Terry or Tony|